Red Hat has landed a major ally in its bid to drive more Linux open source sales in the defense industry, intelligence agencies and the federal government.

The Raleigh-based firm announced Wednesday an agreement to work with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to design, implement and support Linux software solutions on a worldwide basis.

SAIC, which produced $7.8 billion in revenues in its fiscal year 2006, is one of the largest defense contractors with much of its sales made to the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.

Red Hat has made expansion of sales to those same segments a point of emphasis and has received various accreditations for use in security and military applications. As an example, Red Hat recently was part of a group led by another defense contractor, Raytheon, that landed a major contract for systems to be used in the new Zumwalt Class destroyer for the U.S. Navy.

SAIC has more than 44,000 employees based in more than 150 cities.

Red Hat has some 1,.750 employees based in more than 60 locations worldwide. It reported some $400 million in revenues for its most recent fiscal year.

Under the agreement with SAIC, the companies said they would collaborate to develop and deliver solutions with an emphasis on agencies “looking to improve operational effectiveness and productivity.”

“By pairing SAIC’s expertise in systems integration, software development, database architecture and management of large, complex projects with Red Hat’s global open source enterprise leadership, our customers can benefit from the move to flexible, cost-effective, robust and open IT infrastructures,” said SAIC’s Steven Rizzi, who is vice president of operations for advanced information technology.

Red Hat recently made a significant move in the life science industry by announcing a similar partnership with McKesson.

“The product capabilities of Red Hat combined with the demonstrated success of SAIC in the federal IT marketplace can enable federal agencies to rapidly move toward an open systems model, incorporating open source solutions to meet the complex system requirements of the U.S. military, intelligence community, homeland security and other federal agencies,” said Paul Smith, Red Hat’s vice president for government sales operations. “This new collaboration offers Red Hat’s functionality, scalability, security and performance combined with SAIC’s federal government expertise to meet many of the U.S. government’s most pressing challenges.”